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EU forests and forest related policies

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The EU currently contains 5 % of the world's forests and EU forests have continuously expanded for over 60 years, although recently at a lower rate. EU forests and other wooded land now cover 182 million hectares, representing more than 42 % of EU land area.
Forests are a key reservoir of biodiversity. Half of the Natura 2000 network is made by forest areas, though this covers around 20% of the total forest surface of the EU. Forest areas are crucial for regulating the water cycle, absorbing CO2 and providing close-to-nature recreation possibilities. It is therefore very important to take measures to protect forest, especially primary and old growth forest and high biodiversity value forests, as well as to value the ecosystem services that forests provide to society.

Forest protection inherently forms part of the environmental action for which EU competence is founded on Article 191 of the Treaty, as also confirmed by the European Court of Justice.

The EU Forestry Strategy adopted in 1998 puts forward as its overall principles the application of sustainable forest management and the multifunctional role of forests. The Strategy was reviewed in 2005, and the Commission presented an EU Forest Action Plan in 2006. A new EU Forest Strategy for forests and the forest-based sector was adopted in 2013 and a Multi-annual implementation plan was adopted in 2015.

Forest Policy in the European Union

2019

Council Conclusions on the mid-term review of the EU Forest Strategy.

2018 The Commission adopted the Report on the progress in the implementation of the EU Forest Strategy.  
2015

The Commission adopted a Multi-annual Implementation Plan of the new EU Forest Strategy

2014 Council conclusions on the new EU Forest Strategy, Brussels, 19 May 2014, 9944/14
2013

The Commission adopted a Communication on a new EU Forest Strategy, accompanied by a Staff Working Document and took note of a Blueprint for the EU forest-based industries

2011

The Arsenis Report of the environmental committee of the European Parliament gave a series of recommendations on the follow up of Commission's Green Paper on forest protection and information.

2010

The Commission adopted the Green Paper on forest protection and information.

2006

The EU Forest Action Plan was adopted on 15 June 2006. It builds on the report on implementation of the EU Forestry Strategy and consequent conclusions by the Council.

2005

The Commission has presented to the Council and the European Parliament a Communication reporting on the implementation of the EU Forestry Strategy accompanied by a detailed Staff Working Document.

1998  

The European Commission presented a Communication on a Forestry Strategy for the EU
The EU Council adopted a Resolution on a Forestry Strategy for the EU.  This document is considered to be the basic political charter for Community involvement in forest issues.

1995 

The Thomas Report of the environmental committee of the European Parliament gave a series of recommendations for the development of an European Union (EU) Forest Policy.

Forests are affected by a broad array of EU policies and initiatives arising from diverse EU sectoral policies. For several decades now, environmental forest functions have attracted increasing attention mainly in relation to the protection of biodiversity and, more recently, in the context of climate change impacts and energy policies. In public perception, apart from the traditional production of wood and other forest products, forests are increasingly valued for their role as public amenities, biodiversity reservoirs, regulators of climate and local weather, sources of clean water and protection against natural disasters. The following policies are particularly relevant:

Disclaimer:

The Commission is in the process of updating some of the content on this website in the light of the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union. If the site contains content that does not yet reflect the withdrawal of the United Kingdom, it is unintentional and will be addressed.